Lead a Normal Life with Peanut Allergy
If you have peanut allergy, does your life revolve around checking ingredient labels for peanuts or double-checking that you have your EpiPen when you leave the house? You’re not alone.
At Allergy Group NJ we can help you ease the burden. When your whole life doesn’t revolve around preparing for or preventing an allergic reaction to peanuts, you can open up a world of new possibilities—new dishes to eat, trips to take, and plans to make. Let’s start the journey together.
About Peanut Allergy
Peanut allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies peanut proteins as something harmful. Whether you have direct or indirect contact with peanuts, it can trigger an allergic reaction with mild to severe symptoms.
Peanut allergies are so common, it’s practically become an epidemic. According to recent estimates, 6.1 million people in the U.S. have a peanut allergy, with numbers steadily increasing each year. While about 20 percent will outgrow this food allergy, which starts in early childhood, most will suffer persistent reactions their whole lives.
Where are Peanuts Found?
Peanuts may be found in the following: artificial flavoring, baked goods, candy, chili, chocolate, crumb toppings, egg rolls, enchilada sauces, fried foods, flavorings, graham cracker crusts, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, marzipan, mole sauces, natural flavorings, nougats, and various cuisines (e.g., African, Asian, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Mexican).
If found on a food label, the following indicate the presence of peanut protein: arachic oil, arachis, arachis hypogaea, artificial nuts, beer nuts, boiled peanuts, cold pressed peanut oil (and extruded or expelled peanut oil), crushed nuts, earth nuts, goober peas, ground nuts, hydrolyzed peanut protein, mandelonas, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, flavored nuts, nut pieces, nut meat, peanut butter, peanut butter chips, peanut butter morsels, peanut flour, peanut paste, peanut sauce, peanut syrup, Spanish peanuts, and Virginia peanuts.
Peanut Allergy Symptoms
Many allergic reactions to peanuts occur the very first time a child eats the food. Mild reactions, such as a rash around the mouth may precede more severe reactions like facial swelling, hives, and vomiting.
The most severe allergic reaction to peanuts is anaphylaxis—a life-threatening episode with symptoms that may include widespread hives, swelling in the throat, impaired breathing, blue lips, and a drop in blood pressure. Fatal reactions have occurred after eating even very small amounts.
Peanut Allergy Testing & Diagnosis
While there are peanut allergy tests for infants and young children, they can sometimes lead to false positives. At Allergy Group NJ, our doctors will order a combination of skin tests, blood tests, and a peanut component panel blood test to accurately assess the risk for severe reactions and the actual tolerance to peanuts. Our doctors have the expertise to properly interpret the results of the testing. This will help us develop a comprehensive treatment plan to help you and your family break free from the burden of peanut allergies. We can track the progression over time to verify whether an allergy is worsening in some cases, or improving with treatment and possibly resolving.
Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) Treatment for Peanut Allergy
While there’s no proven cure for a peanut allergy, Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for peanut allergy is the closest thing. When peanut OIT is started at a very young age, studies have shown that achieved “sustained tolerance” – meaning that even after stopping OIT, they could eat peanuts. Older children and adults can be successful desensitized so that they do not react to the food anymore.
In the OIT program, the patient eats gradually increasing amount of the food they are allergic to over a period of months, which desensitizes them and retrains their immune system not to react.
The alternative to oral immunotherapy is to continue strict avoidance of peanuts. However, there is a window of opportunity to achieve the best results with OIT. Children as young as one to three years of age are especially good candidates for OIT because their food allergy may not be as severe as in older children and adults.
Managing Your Peanut Allergy
We know that having a child with a peanut allergy can be a heavy responsibility for families. We’ll provide ongoing education and teach you the skills you need to prevent and manage an allergic reaction to peanuts, should one occur.
It’s important to remember foods that don’t list peanuts in the ingredients can still be contaminated with trace quantities through food preparation or manufacturing processes. It’s important to read all food ingredient labels and avoid restaurants where peanuts are a hazard. In addition, stay alert for signs of anaphylaxis and always be prepared with an epinephrine injector (EpiPen or AuviQ). (See the Food Allergy Action Plan).
Schedule a Consultation for Peanut Allergy
Our board-certified allergists provide expert care to children and adults with peanut allergies. Discover why patients come to us for the newest approach to treating peanut allergy.